Austurbakka 2, 101 Reykjavík

Open 12 - 18 every day

Music piece / Tónverk

Innocentia is a woman from Ghana who came to Iceland 18 years ago. She works as a cook in the kitchen of the hospital in Reykjavík and is married to an Icelandic man, with whom she has a son. The recorded material is Innocentia talking on the phone to her brother, who himself emigrated to Italy, as had their sister. Within their phone conversation, they share stories and memories about both joyous and sad recent events. They also include a little song from their village back home.
Innocentia er kona frá Gana sem kom til Íslands fyrir 18 árum. Hún vinnur sem kokkur í eldhúsi landspítalans og er gift íslenskum manni, og saman eiga þau einn son. Í upptökunum talar Innocentia í síma við bróður sinn sem hefur sjálfur flutt til Ítalíu, ásamt systur þeirra. Í símtalinu deila þau sögum og minningum um bæði gleðileg og sorgleg nýleg atvik. Þau syngja líka lítið lag saman, sem er minning frá þorpinu þeirra í Gana.

Art piece / Listaverk

by Hugo Llanes

Installation, 2020

Kundo yi yevuwo megbo o he can be translated from the Ewe Language (Ghanaian) to English as “Kundo has gone to the White man’s land and never returned”. This phrase is part of the musical tradition of Anlo Ewe which is found in the audio piece. The song shortly describes how Kundo (the last king of ancient Dahomey) leaves his tribe (probably because he was kidnapped by Europeans, according to popular historical narratives), and how his protective community decides to go to war, looking for him. This particular song pictures the struggles of Kundo against local enemies and against European domination.

Since the 15th century, direct sea trade was established between Ghana and Europe, land which was distributed between Germany, Britain and France. In the 17th century Ghana was colonized officially by Britain as the The Gold Coast.

Since then, the English language is spoken there, leaving other main languages out of the picture (like Ewe, which cannot be written on a regular Western keyboard).

The Ewes of West Africa are believed to have been among the indigenous people who were most resistant to Western domination and the last to be defeated by Europeans and their African allies.

The piece carves the lyrics into metal, implying that—despite domination, dispossession and colonization—language will remain in the records, along with music, as a powerful tool in aid of memory, a means of documentation and reconstruction of history. The text is primarily written with digitally-carved letters, while hand-carving is used to show how memory can resist colonialism by not being fully incorporated into the dominant text.

Hugo Llanes. Xalapa, Veracruz, México. (b.1990) based in Reykjavík. Is queer-political artist based in Reykjavík.

He graduated from the MA Fine Art Program, Listaháskól Íslands in 2020. Llanes’s practice explores the potential of political gestures to comment on fissures in society and the aesthetics that erupt from them. Llanes considers his body of work to be a playground to navigate society, public space and specific contexts. The exploration of the personal as a microsystem that is exposed to globalization has engaged him to ideas of post-colonialism, the ordinary, the nothingness, the foreigner and the loss, finding in them cases of particular study.